One of the ongoing themes of The Simpsons is the idea of one of the members of the family being ashamed or some behavior and wanting to make the rest of the clan more…normal for lack of a better word.
What makes this episode odd is that person this time around is Homer.
Homer Simpson is, for the most part, the member of the family most likely to get involved with a hare-brained scheme. He’ll do something crazy or embarrassing, and poor Marge will make that murmur sound that indicates concern or frustration and maybe a fight will break out.
What makes this episode stand out to the longtime fan is Marge is part of the problem here. Marge is never part of the problem. Marge getting drunk and acting silly at Mr. Burns’ annual picnic, or Marge wolfing down a TV dinner while getting upset alongside Bart and Lisa when Homer turns off and later pawns the TV seems to be just out of character.
Say, Marge, here’s a thought: if you are so concerned about Homer pawning the TV, how about you not buy expensive box seats for the opera like you did a couple episodes ago?
Marge is usually the bland member of the family. She doesn’t act like a pig. Really, Homer scored way out of his league with Marge, and the series reminds us of this again and again throughout the run of the show.
Then again, we see Lisa acting more like a female version of Bart in these early episodes, so it makes sense for Marge to seem off in favor of Homer wanting the normal family life.
That connects with Homer in a few previous episodes. Homer wanting a normal family, or at least a more exceptional one, connects to “Bart the Genius” or even a little to “Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire”. Seeing both his older children acting like monsters, even Lisa who’s normally the good one, and Marge herself acting more like Homer…well, it makes for an odd role reversal.
But really, Homer isn’t that far off from the character most fans would recognize. He trusts a psychiatrist he saw on pro-boxing. And Dr. Marvin Monroe isn’t what could be mistaken for a competent doctor in most towns. Monroe isn’t the most memorable of Simpsons supporting characters given he more or less disappears after a while (supposedly Harry Shearer said the voice was too rough on his throat), and how his therapies are meant to help, oh, anyone…it’s probably a good thing the Simpson family found unity by beating the guy at his own game.
C’mon, Homer, all your family needed was a new TV. You got that, and you won the bunch of them over.
Now if only Marge and Lisa were more the Marge and Lisa we know and love…
And who was shocking Maggie?